2.12.07

Random acts of kindness

I pride myself of doing random acts of kindness, picking up litter, allowing people to overtake me or cross me while driving or even when walking, but not right now, I was proud that I left enough space in the airport parking for another car when I parked, but that didn't end well.

I had to use both spots to park, but I felt bad for taking two spots so I decided that I should only take one and therefore I parked accordingly. Unfortunately, i was boxed in by an inconsiderate driver who parked very close behind me, it took me an hour of negotiating with my car to try and get it out, and I couldn't.

Finally, the driver of that car decided to go home and let me leave as well.

1.12.07

Islam might mean Terrorism

Really, just ask Google, in google sets, it was terrifying to note that if you enter three words like "Islam, Muslim, Mohammed, Religion" it will give you a set with the next word being Terrorist as part of a set.

I mean come on, "Bus, Car,Automobile" will give you "Train, Boat, Airplane" which sounds reasonable. But the above mentioned example is horrendous, fix it google, lest you turnout as jyllandes posten

20.11.07

Lemme just say this.

I get annoyed when people try to adapt Islam to the current system of governance or economics. When people say Islam is a Democracy, I get pissed.

Islam is in my opinion a huge leap towards perfect government, it is by far the most difficult to apply, because it requires people to cooperate in everything from paying taxes and splitting up their money after death, to choices that people guard as too personal.

But it is not at all democratic. If all you choose to think about is who rules, then it is semi-democratic, but if you look at the overall principal, which is the people choosing the laws, making them and then revoking them, then Islam does not allow this.

Let us first look at the word "Democracy," the word "demos" is the first part of the word "demo-cracy", the second being "cratos," which means "power," that is "power of the people." In practice the latter was achieved by having each citizen represent ONLY himself. There were no representatives, senators, etc. The "trick" of representatives was contrived later by the Romans to marginalize the rabble, that is the "demos."

Islam does not want the people to choose for themselves, it has a set of laws already set up and doesn't recognize the role of people other than that of implementation.
θεοκρατία (theokratia) is what is Islam is, roughly meaning theocracy, which is the rule of God, not to be confused with the rhetoric of oppressive theocracy.

Tory democracy is
a political philosophy advocating preservation of established institutions and traditional principles combined with political democracy and a social and economic program designed to benefit the common man. This is closer to Islam.

14.11.07

Too much technology?

I am aware that I may sound like Justin Timberlake, in his horribly-worded-but-amazingly-addictive-sounding song "She wants it." I am afraid of the lack of low-tech in our life. I always believed technology can and does make our lives easier and more manageable. I have numerous friends I contact primarily through recent technology. But I am currently withdrawing. Because I could care less.

I am an early Internet user, I started with the advent of the Internet in the middle east, It was in the UAE, that was back in 1995, I have been with it, through the banner exchanges and the hit counters, the first cookies and MSIE 1.0 till youtube and Web 2.0, I was one of the first 500 users in the UAE and I am not bragging. I was 10 and I was spoiled, I remember when an engineer came to install "the Internet" from a floppy to my computer which had a state-of-the-art builtin 36,600 bits per second modem, I remember that he was (the technician) Indian with two or three fingers missing from his left hand. I was amazed by his proffesionalism and his non-condescending attitude, he showed me a couple of sites where i can download games but he also showed me how to d/c, write an email, then dial-up and send it. I even remember the pricing system.

I paid 100 AED (almost US$ 30) for the first 10 hours, and 10 AED for each hour after. I even had my own website at the age of 10, it was hosted by geocities in the "Enchanted Forest" section. I learned html, PHP, perl and many other languages and ways to improve my site, I also ventured in some profitable and some not-so-profitable businesses, I even might have committed electronic fraud, and may or may not have registered aajobs.com with a stolen credit card, my uncle hosted the site, and ran it for a long while afterwards, but that was in 1996, I was only 11.

So you can see that I am not a technophobe, in fact I might even be a technophile, but I am starting to regret it. Money permitting, I always bought the latest gadgets, and the best applications and the most advanced systems, but recently I feel burnt-out. Technology became a very fast and very demanding world.

A month ago, I had to open and read through a manual, I never did that, not for computers or gadgets, not for cellphones or cameras, but I had to do it for our washing machine, then I knew that sometime in the near or far future someone will tell me a techy acronym and I wont know what it is and I will fall behind. It is a scary thought given my past, but it is inevitable.

8.10.07

I can't get it off me

The way Jordan is sinking into Globalization, I have been trying to put of this post till later, till I have a solid argument, but today I took a trip to the so-called "people markets", I had enough time to go to different markets and I was appalled.

I am not going to write about the piles of rubbish and lack of sanitation, nor am I going to talk about the obvious lack of supervision, the government turns a blind eye and for different reasons I will too, for now!

I am going to talk however about a different phenomenon, when I looked at the people I could definitely sense the desperation, a civil-servant was pushing through the mini-crowd of old ladies and other men, to grab a tomato that appeared not too green. It had a hint of red, and he had to have it, I guess the "2allaya" was important to his kids who waited in the double-parked government car.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a shop-keeper in the beginning of Ramadan, he clearly told me that he owns a farm, so he will start producing two tiers of produce, (excuse the redundancy but I am a bit aggravated) one will be for his shop, while the second -obviously lower- will be for the popular markets.

Now I am not naive, I heard tissue factory managers and antique dealers tell me the same stuff, but I want to draw attention to something, the alternative here was not placing them side by side, "it would scare people away if I did that", the alternative was "throwing it out, or maybe give it to some herdsman"

This is what is happening, animal stock are starving, no of course I am kidding although you could see where I came with that conclusion, the people are eating vegetable that used to be considered animal grade.

The prices are going down but for years the government thought the best way was to be punitive with such acts, no they are condoning it in the name of feeding the poor, while poor people have dignity and standards, they go right out of the window when you have proud fasting kids waiting to be fed.

I am not going to go into details about the horrible state of meat and chicken but I am sure you can draw conclusions from paralleling. I miss the days when price control and government salary made sure each hard working Jordanian had the ability to feed his children meat more than once a month.

I fear we are becoming like Egypt in the movies of the 80s and 90s

peace, out

6.10.07

Alternative music

I enjoy new Jordanian talent, especially if their music is a bit alternative and a bit fresh, I like hearing stuff like "samar o samira, o 3adnan o leena, o sandy bell, o Sebastian, o spunk, o flona, hadol aflam kartooooon" against a backdrop of dramatic music.

It was hilarious, exhilarating and rejuvenating, trust me, just listen to his songs here, I mean seriously he is going to be big if he ever gets a real label behind him. In the mean wish him luck

Yazan Al Rousan is my topic of the day

4.10.07

I Got Shivers

... when I read this article about his late majesty, his bravery shone through, he lived in an atmosphere that was with no doubt nerve-wrecking, and he was 22, just as old as I am today, instead of learning of the world, as any young man would like to, he had to manipulate it for the benefit of Jordan.

..but in London there was increasing talk of a "villa at Lausanne" as a suitable reward for Hussein. For Jordan, a melancholy excuse for a nation, is unable to support its people without subsidy, unable to protect its government without outside help. If it continued to exist, it would only be because everyone, at the summit or elsewhere, decided that its eradication would be worse.
Imagine a 22-year-old reading that his stay, his kingdom and the future of the region was to be weighed against the "villa at Lausanne" option. Imagine having your country called "a melancholy excuse for a nation." I am sure Jordan is now known as the last stand of moderation in the Middle East, and that's its eradication would be much worse, almost detrimental to the region.

One thing that didn't change much over the years is that Jordan is "unable to support its people without subsidy." Hopefully in the next few years, with the Petroleum prices freed, we will have for once financial independence, a pre-requisite for a meaningful political independence.

2.10.07

I Feel Old


I really do, the other day I went to a computer store and asked for an external hard-drive, I was shocked to discover the numbers they spoke off. (the picture shows the 8.0", 5.25", 3.5" from left to right)

See, 15 years ago, I was what was called a computer geek, I wrote my own programs that harassed the computer user, I remember having old computers that you needed to boot-up from 5.25" floppy, and the laughing as my brothers tried to compare the cassette to it. Then having upgraded to the first MS Windows system, we had a computer with an internal hard drive that was huge. It was astronomical, in comparison of course, "double density" floppies had a capacity of 360KB and the more modern "quad density" had a capacity of 720 KB. I remember a six 3.5" floppy which had windows 6.22, which I installed on a laptop with a hard drive of 25 MB, almost seventeen 3.5" or 35 of the 5.25"variety.



The computer store clerk could tell I was in disbelief, I was remembering my uncle saying "The Human brain is measured in terms of Terabytes,"

I had to ask my uncle "and that is?"

"1024 Gigabytes which are 1024 Megabytes each," he said. "but dont worry it wont take up a whole room, it would be as big as a book but that might be 25 or 30 years in the future."

No one accused my uncle of being a visionary, Doctors today say that the human brain is in the Exabyte range, at least, and probably in the Zettabyte. The drive I saw was external but check this out here. The size is almost the same as the size of the 1.44MB 3.5" floppy drive shown at the right of the picture above. Size equal capacity 700,000 times greater.

I didn't know that we were there already, but I was shocked. I didn't buy it but I bought a Western Digital 500GB, it is a life-saver and so cheap.

30.9.07

Childrens Do Learn

On a continuation of a topic I spoke about a couple of weeks ago, Mr. President went against me and insisted that plurals sound better with an "s".

Check it out here, again he opted to use a grammatically incorrect sentence when speaking of children scores. When I was googling the topic, I got this page which tries hard to correct me, Mr. President: I am sorry but you have to insist the google
keep up to speed with your hip lingo: "Is our children learning?" should be accepted by grammar checkers because it has entered the daily language. You wish.

28.9.07

Blogging from an E61i

Lucky for me the flavour of the day here at books@cafe -or whatever it is called since I feel ancient with all the changes that happen around Amman- is hazelnut. See I am now three days in using this phone and I am addicted to it. On the spot blogging is to be expected from now on, wireless connection permitting ofcourse.

It was also an opportunity to see a sign I seldom see in Ramadan. "Breakfast from: 7:00 am till 2:00 pm."

26.9.07

Horrific Video

I was horrified when I saw this video,





It is actually a video of someone being totally careless and deliberately disruptive, worst of all -حاميها حراميها- those are the people who are paid and entrusted to provide security in Iraq, they are running around shooting at people. Aegis are the people who made this video, they are currently immune from prosecution.

Then, two days before he left Iraq for good, L. Paul Bremer III, the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator, signed a blanket order immunizing all Americans, because, as one of his former top aides told me, “we wanted to make sure our military, civilians and contractors were protected from Iraqi law.”
This is according to this article, because Iraq the land of the Hammurabi code, Mesopotamia, is so horrific in it's laws that killers and mercenaries need protection from. People focus on the blackwater while there are tens of other companies doing the exact same everyday and no one ever got convicted or even indicted.

24.9.07

democracy

This is a quote that really makes you think

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.
H. L. Mencken
US editor (1880 - 1956)

It is true, when you watch the American stories about then potential party candidates and what others are saying about them and the dirt that is being dug up, you can't help but wonder, is any one of these fit to rule.

I am going to go out on a limb here, I think by 2010 or 2011, there will be PM in Jordan that is actually elected from within the parliament, but the problem will be that the choice will be so ill-suited that we will feel at once like the Americans.

22.9.07

Ramadan Prices

I wasn't shocked when I realized that it happened, prices are going to climb every Ramadan, the government and His Majesty are trying to provide an outlet for the destitute and the impoverished, the effort is sincere but the self-gratification is inevitable.

In layman's terms: tell the people we created a market for the poor, and you tell the people that all other markets are for the rich, merchants will think "I will raise the prices since there is a place for people who don't like it." I agree with Fahed Al-Fanek on this.

Check it out here and here

Obviously the government is not resurrecting the Ministry of Supply, but everyone who reads this blog knows I am no capitalist, but I do agree that people should not speculate when there are statistics, however, a 65% decrease in the cost of fruits and vegetables where taken directly from middle-men, intermediaries.

I think the governments role should be somewhere else, releasing support of any kind, to any industry, let the market take it's place and then, like we saw in the banks, telecommunication, insurance and other sectors go back to the regulation role.

Why such a change of heart from me? Not really, the next step should be tax exemptions for collectives and co-ops which will pave the way for a more socialistic endeavour, more on that later.

20.9.07

Irony

Antione Ghanem died last night, an MP from the March 14 assembly, which includes these people. I wanted to stray off-topic but I had to mention these people to support my point.

Feb 2005: Ex-PM Rafik Hariri
June 2005: Anti-Syria journalist Samir Kassir
June 2005: Ex-Communist leader George Hawi
Dec 2005: Anti-Syria MP Gebran Tueni
Nov 2006: Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel
June 2007: Anti-Syria MP Walid Eido
Sep 2007: Anti-Syria MP Antoine Ghanim


I was watching LBC and they had an ad made of people welcoming kinships and family at the Airport. They ran it beautifully, it was leading to a proclamation that stunned me:

"The Safest Country in the World"

I live in Jordan and while we do have a fear of terrorism in the wake of our 9-11, which happened on the 9th of November almost two years ago, I can guarantee that Jordan is still safer that Lebanon. I can also tell of the Irony of watching a member of parliament not yet 48 hours in the country from his fearful stay outside Lebanon (in Abu Dhabi), foolowed by such a daring advertisement for lebanon.

18.9.07

Salon again

I ran into a Freedom Airlines pilot a week ago at Kennedy airport. We were standing in line together, catching a flight to Boston. He was a captain (four stripes), but looked about 17 years old. I was trying to figure out which company he flew for, but couldn't make sense of the star-spangled logo on his I.D. badge. So I asked him.

"I fly for Freedom," he responded.

I wasn't sure if he was answering my question or making a political statement. I wanted to put my arm on his shoulder. "We all do, son. We all do."

I am still laughing as I write this, this is an excerpt from one of my favourite columns, it is by Patrick Smith of Salon.com, check out this weeks episode from a career pilot.

16.9.07

Missionary

No, I am not going to start a series about sexual positions, nor am I even going close, I am talking about a missionary effort of another sort. See I believe in freedom of belief and religion, but I do not believe in being harassed by the Good News Magazine in their efforts to spread Christianity in the middle east, I believe all unsolicited mail to be harassment and illegal.

However, I must say that what they do write in their booklets -of which I am a frequent recipient- sometimes sounds appealing to my Muslim roots, I guess all religious people are conservative in the same way. To me, the belief system is based on predicting the future, which I know that no one can do. I am waiting for "What's Ahead for America and Britian?" and "What does the bible say about Tithing?"

It is going to be amusing seeing clergymen defending sizable donations to the churches.

14.9.07

My favourite dogs


I always wanted to own this dog, I personally can't think of another dog that has this much grace, I would have got one a while back when we were living in the farm, but my family insisted on a guard dog, and it isn't. This is the Siberian Husky.

His well furred body, erect ears and brush tail suggest his Northern heritage. His characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He performs his original function in harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. His body proportions and form reflect this basic balance of power, speed and endurance. The males of the Siberian Husky breed are masculine but never coarse; the females are feminine but without weakness of structure. In proper condition, with muscle firm and well developed, the Siberian Husky does not carry excess weight. (Basically think of this dog as an endurance sleigh dog), his temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. He does not display the possessive qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs. Some measure of reserve and dignity may be expected in the mature dog. His intelligence, tractability, and eager disposition make him an agreeable companion and willing worker. According to akc.org



I also think that its relatives of Nordic and in general northern species are also beautiful. These are the the Norwegian Elkbound, and the Alaskan Malamute.

12.9.07

Bonus, stock options and others.

When someone the other day attacked my normal support for more socialistic ownership of production, I was shocked, not by the fact that he did, but because I know that this person is not an owner of anything.

I always knew it is easier to convince the have-nots than the haves about social programs and public welfare, I didn't expect that people have been so brainwashed recently that they believe that mere capitalism is what makes people happy. It is more surprising since capitalists don't believe it anymore.

Big Corporations offer people bonuses for a job well done, to implement the following ethos in the worker "What's good for the company is good for you." That's also why executives always get stock options, to give them a reason not to bail out on the company, their wallets are attached to it.

Corporations realized that they need to survive and grow more than they need to stick to capitalistic tendencies. Ownership to the workers makes more money to the invested capital, which is exactly what socialism is.

10.9.07

Aircrafts, Specie, and other annoyances

I get annoyed when I find a site called aircrafts.com, or when people say "I'm back to Headquarter." I personally understand the former better, I can understand the need for people to go that extra mile and add an "S"

"Sleep with the fishes," comes to mind.

Go here for plurals. This is ironically a German site but it works.

8.9.07

being inconvenient pays

We all know that Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is amazing, but I just learned that it grossed $49 million and that it is the fourth-highest-grossing documentary film to date in the United States, after Fahrenheit 9/11, March of the Penguins and Sicko. I only watched Fahrenheit 9/11 and Al Gore's film.

He received two academy awards for it, but that's not what I want to talk about. I encourage everyone to go see it, even if you are a green person who spent the last three decades saving wildlife and studying the environment.

The movie is entertaining, it is filled with accurate and scientific facts, it made me think, alot.

6.9.07

Pope goes green, you should too!

If the pope took notice and drew a rally of half a million people in Italy, then we should all do stuff to stop our effect on nature, on the environment, I personally think of the environment every time I turn on a light, turn the ignition of a car or start a fire for a BBQ.

I think inefficiencies and waste are the areas were we can save the most energy, especially in Jordan, were we can't buy green energy, but think of offsetting technologies too.

4.9.07

Education

It is depressing, to note that in a ranking of education, literacy, the top 75 countries in the world have only one Arab country, ironically enough it has probably the poorest, most unfortunate conditions for education. Palestine.

Second is obviously Jordan, as I said, numerous times I said before and I will say it again, Humans are our only resource, and they should be above and beyond any other country in the world. This is sad, since GDP per Capita for a country like Qatar is 6 times that of Jordan, 33049 compared to 5542, Yet they have comparable rates of literacy.

2% of Jordanians live on less than $2 per day, that is what I pay in Internet and land line fees, What is Qatar's excuse?

2.9.07

Beautiful work of art

As a fan of "The Godfather" and Mario Puzo, I was ecstatic when I saw this piece of manual intelligence. It is good!



It is made up of the whole script of the movie, I would have posted it if it wasn't very taxing to my blog and if it wasn't illegal. but here is a link.

enjoy!

30.8.07

Nice Draw

We could have had it worse, but we could have had it much better, but Liverpool with Besiktas, Porto and Marseille is not too bad, we can easily make if by nothing other than our home wins, beacuse THIS IS ANFIELD!

28.8.07

Free flight sim!

Flight simulator in google earth! That was my expression when I hear it but then I had to try it out, it does control nicely although the controls are counter-intuitive and therefore I blew up a few aircrafts trying.

I couldn't find info about it on the official site of google earth, but download version 4.2 and then try it out (ctrl-alt-a)

peace, out

26.8.07

Understanding Power

I am really getting to understand why the New York Times called him "arguably the most important intellectual alive," he really has that thing about him, he keeps up with current events and knows how to link past, present and future, when you read what he writes, especially when it is a collection of speeches and talks, which are by definition easy to understand and entertaining if you are interested in the topic, I would dare say that I don't agree with everything he says, but then again I would have to have a second look before I claim something.

I bought this book, it does not seize to amaze me, I know many of the facts in the book but when he analyzes them, I literally stop and think, and I hope he reads this some day, till then, I would like to annoy any fans of his by saying this, I met him in York University, Canada and I actually conversed with him.

I will however write here anything that I want to disagree with this great mind, also, I now want a dozen more of his books.

22.8.07

God's Warriors

I am not a person to be quickly hail a program or an investigative report, even if done by Christian Amanpour, but last night's God's Warriors promised a straight forward, fair and balanced journalism, tonight it will talk about Islamic God Warriors which if anything tells you that it shall be a fun-packed adventure.

I love it when people break the religion taboo and talk about it openly, but when she brought the segment about Jewish fanatics she explained AIPAC and their funding, which is a good step, to tell us that charities in the US are helping in building settlements that, even under US foreign policy, are illegal.

I wonder if I tried to register a charity in the US which supports the legal right of resisting occupation, would it go through as peacefully. I guess that is a challenge to lawyers right there.

20.8.07

Now that's not fair

I know some have seen the Chelsea match, Liverpool definitely deserves the two points that Styles awarded Chelsea with that bizarre penalty, he admits it was wrong but we don't get the points. What's the point!

I hate it when it happens because our first home match was difficult enough to have with Chelsea, but to rob us from a home win against chelsea is just too much, it was Torres' first goal with with us.

Anyways, I feel good about the coming season, because it seems we have all the roles filled with the right people and a few to spare.

You'll never walk alone

2.8.07

IAF pulls out, good riddance

I seriously believe that the previous municipal elections in Jordan were fair and honest, I looked at the process and I personally believe that it is extremely hard if not impossible to have dual registration or to manipulate the results, each candidate had an option to have a representative present in voting halls and the IAF did take that option.

Islamic Action Front has always accused the government of fraud in the elections while most of the other parties who had losing candidates maintained that the elections were fair, IAF, I believe, fell into the same trap most relegious movements fall inot, they believe that all of the people attending prayers in their mosques and who were helped to be registered by them, will eventually vote for them. Nothing is farther from the truth.

I admire many of the sheiks in mosques who go ahead and run for seats, they contribute alot to the welfare of the society, and provide seriously, whether in terms of morals and ideals or in term of social networking and social justice and honesty.

However, people are not going to automatically poll for such candidates in elections, some people prefer technocrats (as I do) while others simply have tribal loyalties, many others vote for the person who they think will be able to do personal favors for them, regardless of whether or not it will be beneficial to the district and country as a whole.

They lost fair and square, the sooner they will accept it, the sooner they can work to solve it for the parliamentary elections. Where I voted, there were two engineers running from the same clan, I ended up casting a vote for the one whom I thought was in it for the right reasons.

If the IAF would choose prominent members of clans who are well educated and can be considered technocrats, then it is easier for them to win sympathies of clans and people who look for the contentment of the country in services. However, if they continue to choose serious member of the Islamic movement who are educated in theocracy and theology then they will never reach the position of responsibility outside their own organizations.

P.S. I said they will claim fraud and cheat in this election almost a week ago, they did, no surprise.

30.7.07

You cause it, you pay for it

When I first saw an apartment I liked it was priced at 120 thousand Jordanian Dinars, today I saw the same apartment sold for 320 thousand JD, which reminded of an incident a few summers ago when I went to buy Tomatoes, they were priced at 10p/Kg today the same store sells them for 50p/Kg. You could teach me about inflation all you want but the time frame I am talking about is not what you think it is, unless, of course, you do reside in Amman.

The time frame is two years and we are not located in 2003 Brazil, (although in certain sectors we beat the 77% rate as mentioned earlier) I remember reading somewhere that from 1964 through 1994, the accumulated inflation rate in Brazil fetched 1,000,000,000,000,000 % (that´s one quatrillion percent) !! This fantastic figure is not an estimate; it was calculated by Joelmir Beting, a well respected Brazilian journalist, based on the official inflation numbers.

As I said, we aren't Brazil, we are Jordan were the inflation rate is controlled through control of prices of commodities and especially necessities. Water, electricity, fuel and cement were until recently all controlled, all but cement still are.

This saved the government the effort of trying to control what i call the inverted up loop. Once they let the cement price go free, so, naturally due to inflation and commercially due to LaFarge's monopoly of the region's cement, the prices went nuts as they did worldwide, the prices increased steadily with demand.

Which brings me to my the real point, the demand increased because of the influx of Iraqis moving in to the country, the estimate in about a half a million Iraqis which means an average of 100,000 apartments, this is what is called unnatural growth. If prices of apartments and shops and land went up, followed by the price of fuel, which runs everything in this country, then we can guesstimate that if the Iraqis left the countries the demand will decrease and prices of apartments will go down. The government chose another route, to build subsidized housing for the lowest income in Jordan, this subsidy I believe should be paid by Iraq, whether in terms of oil or otherwise.

I therefore, agree that the Iraqis caused inflation and they should either pay for it or leave, two ways to deflate it. I think that our infrastructure is being stretched thin by this influx, and we should address it head on.

28.7.07

No Taxation without representation

I believe in this motto as a general guide for any tax system, Because we, as Ammanites, pay an increasingly unrealistic tax-rate for services rendered and not, we should be active in the upcoming elections, although I have certain comments about the state of the greater Amman Municipality or in other words the "amaneh".

It seems unrealistic that we pay the "amaneh" for pavement but we do them our selves, that we have the highest pothole per meter ratio, while the amaneh has the highest income of any goverment agency. That we still don't have an efficient numbering system in Amman, although the system is in place, the municipality has not done anything to make it viable. Only recently have the buildings on main streets received decent visible numbering. They could enforce a test on all taxi drivers to memorize the street names, or at least on courier companies. I would accept any positive step in Amman.

The other thing is that half of the council of the "amaneh" is elected while the other is appointed which makes little room for the demands of people, I would accept as a first step the Mayor, to be appointed while the whole council elected.

26.7.07

They pull me back in

"Just when I thought I was out--they pull me back in!" That's my feeling about Palestinian politics, I could spend obscene amount of time trying to avoid reading about it, but if a spend a minute reading any title I get confused on why exactly do I want to avoid it.

Palestinian politics is getting more and more complicated every day, the people are suffering yet more, their threshold is continuously being tested and unfortunately no one is present to give them the results of those tests.

Hamas won the election and I wrote in 30-1-2006 that Hamas winning is not necessarily good for the Palestinians, if anything it is bad, time proved I am right in a sense, but it was expected, only a minority of serious observers of Palestinian politics thought that Hamas had the power to tell the people of the world that they are looking for peace through blowing up people.

International opinion is against Hamas is almost unified, they believe that Israel is to recognised and that a unity government that recognizes all the previous accords and agreements is to be placed. This is like telling Hamas: "You won, you get to participate in the same kind of government you were ushered in to throw out, and you get to loose all the rational that brought you in, if you agree, you are done, no one will elect you again, if you don't then we will starve your people."

Hamas has a lot to be blamed for, the Coup d'État in Gaza and the starvation of the Palestinians are among the most visible while there are more vague ones, I would honestly call it a destabilization of the elections in the region, look at Egypt and elsewhere, the effects will cause people to be afraid to vote for Islamic candidates. I can almost guarantee that the next elections in Jordan, the municipal elections, are going to called unfair and undemocratic with calls at forgery and similar claims. My guess is Islamic Action Front (IAF), no one will vote for them because people fear another Hamas in Jordan.

6.7.07

Yet Another Inch and Momuntem Builds

When I started my diet, I didn't think my weightloss target was realistic, but when I looked at my brother Rami, who maintained a very healthy body, I was always struck by envy, I don't want to be as big as him, but I want to have as little fat as he does in his body, today my waist is 42" and therefore I feel closer to my target.

I don't feel bothered by my new eating habits, if anything, I feel refreshed, and the continous shrink in my size doesn't hurt, although I now believe that I lost alot of fat, I would still like to see it on the scale.

4.7.07

Thank God for Science

I really am grateful that I live in this time, yet I despise having to live in it, I wish I lived in a simpler time but I don't know what I would do without science, I mean i read books that are published, transported and delivered in such a maze of technology and hyperactivity that I could spend an hour talking about the stages a book goes through technology. I am addcited to books, so I am therefore addicted to technology.

I am grateful that a book talking about the science of the human body is become a bestseller even if it is written speaking to a 12-year-old. I am talking about "You: On A Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management"

I am also talking about alot of advancements that not only popularized knowledge and made it more available, it also made it more accessible. I hate the fact that know-it-alls these days follow the saying "Jack of all trades, master of none" because of the dedication required of mastering one.

2.7.07

Mars as big as the moon?

How can people be so gullible? I have received numerous e-mails talking about august 27th at 12:30 PM as a chance to see mars close enough to be as big to the naked eye as the moon and that this will only happen again in 2778 or something to that extent.

If that did happen it will probably pull the gravity of earth out of balance and probably derail the the earth off its orbit around the sun and maybe even cause it to burn up or freeze over when changing the proximity of earth to the sun.

I wasn't shocked that NASA put up this page and the good news for me is the events they talk about in the in 2003, I witnessed them in Canada back then.

26.6.07

Enjoy Jordan

I'm being sincere, I'm not playing a pun about the weather and I am not trying to convince you to leave Jordan, I really mean it. I went to Dana Nature Reserve last weekend and although the weather was aggravating and the sun roasting, it was a beautiful experience. We went on a four hour trail starting at 8 am from Dana village to Feynan Eco-Lodge.

I am going to Ajloun reserve next month and I strongly recommend the reserves to anyone who enjoys a bit of nature, adventure or both.

I will post some pictures soon, come back later

24.6.07

101 things to do before you die - 2

Be an Extra in a Film:

If your character had a name, what was it? no
What was the title of the film you were in? Betrayal! (documentary, i was in the Mordechai Vanunu one)
Did you have a speaking part? I guess, but the sound did not show up on film
Where did you see the film? still didn't see it. I will see it in august when Omyr brings it
If yes, write some of your lines? We want peace
How long did filming take? 2 mins
What was your total screen time? a few seconds
How did you get to be in the film? I looked middle-eastern enough, and the crew was looking around campus for that.
Which famous people did you meet on set? no one

20.6.07

Another Inch gone

This inch was much faster although I have changed nothing in my regimen, I think my body is getting sick of my continuous calorie watch and so decided to get there faster to help me out :)

It is fine by me and my waist is now at 43", I'm feeling rather excited.

6.6.07

Shrinking Waist

Finally I'm convinced I lost some fat, I weigh myself far too many times to believe that I lost weight. I am convinced now, because my waist is a size 44" and no longer a 45" which took alot of actual weightloss, and most importantly sticking to the 8 glasses of water a day.

I am feeling positive that I'm on the slow right track to losing fat.

4.6.07

Raje3 yet3amar

When I was a kid, we went to visit Lebanon, I was about 6 years old, which places it just a few months after the end of the civil war, civil strife had just ended and there was hope that could be felt. I remember one song particularly well, it spoke of rebuilding Lebanon and the days of joys to come, here is a version I found. That song struck well with me, when it spoke of the return of the Lebanese, as brethren and as equals who will join hand-in-hand to rekindle the joys of old Lebanon.

To be honest, I felt a sense of shame when I visited Lebanon then, I was ashamed that Lebanese and Palestinian factions where able to fight for years on end, to induce a death toll of 100,000 people amongst each other and more importantly that Palestinians have once again caused havoc in a host, sovereign country. I remember thinking it would take years to repair all those buildings, and a great amount of money, but that was before we heard of what Hariri was capable of doing.

I miss the feeling of comradeship I noticed then in Lebanon, after the Taif Agreement, Lebanese people my father spoke to were talking about "La ghaleb wala maghloob," which meant that now one won the civil war, but instead, they were equal as Lebanese. They all felt like they fought each other to the best of their capabilities, and that now they were willing to together to build a future for their children.

I wish that today it was this simple, but then again, it probably never was.

2.6.07

Oprah, the phenomena

If I was Oprah Winfrey, I would think a million times before I go anywhere, do anything and I would probably say nothing, but I am not and probably that's the reason I may never become her. It is said that the Oprah book club is an instant 1 million book sale and an instant climb to top position on sales lists.

Oprah recently had NIGHT BY ELIE WIESEL as a pick, it is a great story about a holocaust survivor, I have said and will continue to say, that there is damning evidence for the holocaust and that the horrendous number of lives that died in it should not be denied, I also maintain that there is -in any subject- open room for research. It does not mean, however that the story is over. Oprah -with her billion dollar name and her approach and credibility that politicians would kill for- is lending her name to a cause that is to say the least controversial.

She has accepted an invitation to visit Israel, and knowing the Israelis, I have many fears, Americans, I believe are misguided, when it comes to the Middle East, and to have Oprah endorse one side, would further distort such understanding, not to mention that it would lend support to occupiers, war crimes' perpetrators.

I hope she thought this through.

30.5.07

This is my 100th post

Recently -since febrauary- I have maintained a post every two days, on even days, even if posting about mundane things, it still means a whole lot to me to have reached the 1ooth post, and so I will dedicate this just for that, and for saying that I have nothing else to talk about.

My blog seems to not grow in audience, even thought I try to plug it in everywhere, I am enjoying more because of that fact, I can't seem to care what people will comment, because hardly anyone does, and one day I know I will look at this post and say "Those were the days, my friend"

I will try to include -in every post from 101st upwards- a picture, and hopefully it will bring up this site.

28.5.07

New style -again

As Many of you have noticed, the website has been tampered with, and the old cool and hip design was removed. Darn, it doesn't look right any more.

The thing is, i did it, and I like it, and I don't care about the level of coolness that the blog has, really I don't.

I added my picture in a PA-44, which is a piper seminole, and added the same line, and headline. New Additions:

1- Cogito, Ergo Sum: I think, therefore I am , which is part of Descartes Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (Latin: "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am") is a philosophical statement used by René Descartes, which became a foundational element of Western philosophy. "Cogito ergo sum" is a translation of Descartes' original French statement: "Je pense, donc je suis", which occurs in his Discourse on Method (1637).

2-"In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro" (I have searched for peace everywhere, but have not found it anywhere except for in a corner with a book). a quote by Thomas à Kempis

3-GeoVisite counter and tracker, which is fun to see, although most of my recent hits are from Jordan.

4-I also removed some spam comments, added the moderate comments feature, because it seems neccesary.

26.5.07

Support Local Brands

I am now changing my mind about certain beliefs, I looked far and near and realized that globalization, though helpful in some areas, is largely to blame for everything.

It is in Jordan that restaurants are opening up by the dozen, and the services are getting better, if you look for European style cuisine, it is available, mainly thanks to foreign restaurant chains coming here. This pushed the restaurant industry to step up and face the challenges.


Recently, I tried both Tropicana and Minute Maid, which are properties of PepsiCo. and Coca-Cola respectively. I enjoyed the juices they offer, but not as much as I enjoy local juice companies. For some reason, local juice companies -who buy concentrates from abroad- seem to be doing a great job.

Since I have been on a diet for a long time now and losing reasonable weight, I realized that not only do I not need beverages that contain CO2 in them, I HATE them. There were times when Burger King and McDonald's were not allowed in Arab countries, because of connections to Israel, times change. Today there are a plethora of branches of many companies, with connections to Israels in the Arab World. Try Chili House and Chili Ways, and if you don't seem to like them, then try something else, but try Jordanian first.

I therefore took a drastic decision, not buy multinational products and help the local competition. I know that I am not a fan of Starbucks anymore, it makes sense that I should when available, support a local brand, and I found one that is superior in value and taste, although not variety.

This picture was actually on their site and the friends at archive.org still have a copy, if Israel awarded the Chairman of Starbucks, I am not buying from there. Simple, Right?

http://web.archive.org/web/20010502093522/www.starbucks.com/aboutus/recognition.asp?cookie_test=1

Economically, I find it viable to Jordan that I buy my coffee from flavours, or any other Jordanian variety, I personally enjoy it, and am a regular customer, they know my drink and prepare the minute I walk in.

I also enjoy going to places where the giving is part of their revenue, not some minute percentage, but actually a fixed part that is of significance, and I must say I am not surprised by amount of such places available.

If you are into nature, try Wild Jordan, it is amazingly good, and supports the RSCN, which is as good cause as any.


But if you feel that you need a more entrenched cause, try the places at
AlQaser Hotel Howard Johnson. I think this may impress you, also remember their courtyard is a very nice place to sit and relax.

Remember to support as many local enterprises in your community, because they will help the money flow to remain in the country.

24.5.07

You'll Never Walk Alone

We just lost 2-1 to A C Milan, but Morientes once said, the best team lost, Inzaghi isn't a hero, he just happened to be in the way for one, and the Liverpool defense screwed up.

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the Storm there's a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll never walk alone.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll ne-ever walk alone.

That's it, not a bad season, but the preimership is our target for next year, RAFA, please listen, we want the premiership. All the best to the wonderful squad and the crew behind them.

22.5.07

Kathem Al Saher

They called him "the Caesar of Arab Singing" and many other names which corresponded to his status, he did many great Songs and has his name on many other outcries for the children of Iraq. That was great.

The Dixie Chicks took a position and they stood up for it, regardless of whether I agree with them or not, I respect them because they tried to use their fame and celebrity status to do what they thought is good.

Kathem on the other hand outright lied: "The War is over" he sung in 2003, the war started on my b-day, but for the life of me I couldn't find where it said the war was over. Kathem, who says his father is a Sunni and his mother is a Shiite and thus dismissing the claim that he has anything to be sectarian about, joined Soprano Sarah Brightman and told me a lie that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand.

Until that point I loved him, I bought his every record, memorized every song, but then he made a masterpiece of music, which I hated, not because it wasn't good, I just said it was a masterpiece, but because he gave me and I suppose many others, false hope of a very near shinning future.

I want to someday look back at this post and say: "Well, he was only a few years off" I really want to. Still listen to this if you know Arabic.
It was a song written with no intentions.

P.S. I have not bought an album of his since.

20.5.07

Rumours - 2

I have heard rumors, I don't claim any of these to be true or actually credible, but I want my minuscule readership to hear what people try to sell to me. This is a series, I will post to it more often than other series I started, mainly because people talk alot.

- I heard that there is a ministerial shake-up, the Prime Minister is changing, Sharif Shaker is rumored, a big change of plans for the elections waiting to happen

IF this is true, it is not unexpected, I heard a speaker at the World Economic Forum say that "a certain Arab country which I will not name ... has minsters change every 8 months ... give them a chance"

I can't remember who he was but it was right before the Schwab final lines. I guess the gentleman was referring to Jordan, he was right, each Prime Minster has a specific agenda, when it is done, he leaves. I guess. I am not sure.

Parliamentary elections in the region are scary, Hamas in the P.A., the Musilm Brotherhood in Egypt and many other examples make it something to be watched for.

18.5.07

Rumours - 1

I have heard rumors, I don't claim any of these to be true or actually credible, but I want my minuscule readership to hear what people try to sell to me. This will be a series, I will post to it more often than other series I started, mainly because people talk alot.

- I heard that there are cities being built in Zarqa, Jordan and in other areas for the Palestinians in Refugee camps in Lebanon. Other Palestinians in the gulf and whatnot will be offered citizenship and most will be given generous compensations. Other likely candidates for the way of transfer are Palestinians living outside the Apartheid wall but inside the Green line.

IF this is true, it will cause the same effect that the Palestinians living in Kuwait who came over, it caused inflation and strained the public services for years, the same happened when the Iraqis who fled Iraq came over. I used to be able to afford to buy a decent apartment, but not anymore.

My every-8-day update, My scale is busted but I am guessing, I lost another 2 pounds.

The most non-self-centered thing that troubles me, is the rights that will be taken away from them. They have inalienable rights and they should be respected, I hope for the sake of the region that it is not true.

16.5.07

Waist Managment?

As you might have read here that I will be following a waist management strategy, which include not having your scale as your ultimate reference in checking how well you do on a diet, so I will not talk about my weight anymore unless I pass an important landmark.

My waist is 45" inches measured at the belly button. That's it, I said it!!

Wow, that's alot!! I'm hoping for a 36, but my immediate goal is anything less than 40 which is were the trouble starts.

14.5.07

Edward Said Chair

I would like to congratulate Columbia University, they did a remarkable feat and won a great battle, they did not surrender their fate to people who call "foul" or "antisemitism" on every corner. Columbia University established an Edward Said Chair in Middle East Studies, it was 2002 and it was great. Forcing the pro-Israeli media to take note, campus watch said:

"Columbia is already known for the lack of balance in Middle East studies. The list of donors to the Edward Said chair only confirms the problem.

Particularly worrisome is the presence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) among the donors."

They didn't explain why a country and a university where so abhorrently labeled and attacked. Edward said was a great scholar and his books reached great fame and acclaim, nothing in his written (or spoken) history, can be scholarly refuted, he has actually rejuvenated how middle-east study should occur. His work "Orientalism" is considered the landmark study in this field.

It is ridiculous at this day and age that so many websites are attacking donors to study programs, and attacking universities for respecting the wishes of non-disclosure by patrons of academia.

Columbia didn't at first disclose the names of donors but later did:
Yusef Abu Khadra
Abdel Muhsen Al-Qattan
Ramzi A. Dalloul
Richard and Barbara Debs
Richard B. Fisher
Gordon Gray, Jr.
Daoud Hanania
Rita E. Hauser
Walid H. Kattan
Said T. Khory Munib R. Masri
Morgan Capital & Energy
Olayan Charitable Trust
Hasib Sabbagh
Kamal A. Shair
Abdul Shakashir
Abdul Majeed Shoman
Jean Stein
United Arab Emirates

After the list was disclosed "The list of donors to the Edward Said chair only confirms the problem." campus watch and other pro-Israeli groups said. From what I know, most of the people above are business people and philanthropists. Nothing is wrong if they want to sponsor certain areas of study.
The UAE was attacked but Dick Chenney didn't seem to mind visiting them yesterday, also the compairision is not valid but this donation and Harvard's, this was done by the government, not by the late ruler Sheikh Zayed, which is quite different.

12.5.07

Everyone wants the premeirship

Liverpool is the club with the most premiership wins, but since Manchester United is set to win this year and reach 16 titles, just two behind Liverpool's record of 18, Liverpool should wake up and smell the heat.

Liverpool hasn't won a league since 1990, I was 5 then and I don't remmember it, but for more than selfish reasons they should start winning soon. Any follower this season can tell you we have a problem, we lost 9 away games this season, no one has lost more away games in the top half of the table, while we won 14 home games, which is a feat not beat by any except Man. U. We only lost 1 home match which is even better than Man U.

Man u managed to get 89 points while Liverpool got 68, we barely remained in third place, 21 points we were short of first place. That means we would have had to win 7 more games, we lost a total of 14.

Sometimes I feel that the premiership is more important than the Champions league. Remember when we won the champions league in Istanbul (against AC Milan) and ended up fifth, I wouldn't ever want to see the fifth rank again.

Last year we got third but we were 1 point away from Man U and 9 points from Chelsea, this year it is much worse, but on the good news, our final for the champions league (agianst AC Milan) is soon and we have a good chance to keep our name held high.

10.5.07

There are 12 ways to say sh

I was shocked that English is a hard language to pronounce, I thought it made sense with all it rules, but it turns out it doesn't.

ancient, sure, session, sheep, mansion, ocean, unctuous, chef, station, conscious, anxious and tissue all have an "sh" sound in them and it is ridiculous to think that "sh" can be spelled twelve different ways. ci, su, ssi, sh, si, ce, tu, ch, ti, sci, xi and ss respectively.

It is also ridiculous that vain, vein and vane are all pronounced the same way. That why I am having a hard time reading and pronouncing French, they have rules. I am used to finding the exceptions. I started hating the exceptions in the English language.

My every-8-day update, no loss of weight but it's okay since I ate alot of Junk.

8.5.07

Flying is the same

I flew in the night time today, night-flying is the same as day flying when you consider that you are flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules), meaning you navigate your aircraft based on ground references, not based on navigation equipment, night time makes more sense to me. I can see the lighting and the roads, I can also see aircrafts around us much more easily due to a little handy invention named lights. In the day time, you can hardly expect to spot the aircraft if it a couple of miles away, but instead your will keep scanning and then luckily you will spot it.

I love night flying better than day.

6.5.07

Learning French

I have been contemplating learning a third language, I always fantasized about it, I choose French for more reasons than one, French is almost the third most spoken language in Jordan, it is the official language in 41 countries and French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world, after English. It is the native tongue of over 87 million people and has an additional 68 million non-native speakers.

It made sense, but also it is a matter of convenience because many people I know speak it at a level or another therefore I can find someone to go to. This is not to mention that many books I would love to read are in fact written in the French language and are not translated.

France is a center of culture and many Arabic politicians, thinkers, authors and artists reside there, they have published in French what won't be easily accessible in other languages. Also to learn more about the European progressive and socialist movements you have to start somewhere and france is as good a place as any.

It is a fun language as I realized the last time I was in France in 2003, I chatted with a female taxi-driver with what little words I could muster, I could understand she has family Montreal and I could explain what I wanted to see and where I wanted to go. I realized that it won't be an enormous feat to go from bilingual to multilingual.

I already bought a book about the topic and I am learning some phrases to try and use soon, we will see how that goes.

4.5.07

Donations to the suffering

A lot of people I know and talked to about the current situation in the occupied territories have always seemed ready to help, usually monetarily to ease down the suffering, the theme that seems all the people have agreed on is that the money won't reach to the people.

Trust me, I know what that means, my father for years had a sizable portion of his paycheck cutoff to support the PLO, and many people like him did the same, eventually the PLO and it's leaders are rich and have millions of dollars worth of assets known to the public, while the Palestinian public is living under extremely impoverished condiions.

77% of people in Gaza are in poverty, 23% are in deep poverty, the can't even reach the poverty line after aid, the was 22% DECREASE in income for Palestinians in the occupied territories. To remedy it, everyone who can help is encouraged to, I researched a few programs and realized the safest bet is the Welfare Association's special appeals. Give them a visit and check it out

2.5.07

Jordan of Hussein Part 2

So why do I write about him right now? Eight years after he left us? He was missed by Jordanians and neighbors more than ever recently. This article, while a belated eulogy for him, it is not a belittlement of his son's accomplishments, but the situation in the region does need someone of a more "known face". That kind of familiarity was what helped Jordan take a firm position against US interference in Iraq in 1991 and still managed to maintain the United States empowerment of the Jordanian economy.

The President, Senators, Congressmen and people in almost all of the levels of the government had found the excuse for him, knowing he will never choose anything that will harm his country. Such familiarity would not have made Jordan a target for terrorists, and like he did in many previous occasions, he would have acted like an arbitrator, causing the situation in Iraq to defuse.

That was mainly because he knew how to deal with terrorists on negotiation tables, Yasser Arafat, the deceased leader of Palestinian guerilla group PLO was a longtime enemy of Hussein, and tried to topple his regime in 1970, but come late 1980s he was transformed into a Palestinian leader, an ally of Jordan, to die as President of Palestine earlier this year.

This is just what everyone expected of him, and he knew how to navigate all the seas to get to the shore of safety. All that being said, Hussein did have a few set backs in his history he could have lived without, and while the habit of not talking ill of the dead is practiced seriously in Jordan, it goes without saying that no one is perfect.

Hussein was taking his time in learning the lesson that the Arab world was not to be relied on for the well being of Jordan. After the 1967 war, he was called a traitor and a man who favored the west over his brethren in Palestine. He had just entered a war on behalf of the Arab world as Nasser was asking them to push Jordan, the country with the longest borders with Israel, push it into a war against Israel.

That did not gain Jordan any compassion in the west, but he was guaranteed by the Arab leaders, that no matter what happens, Jordan will be adequately compensated by petrol-rich countries. Lack of air cover by the Egyptian air-force caused for the war to be a tragic loss, Hussein lost the West Bank and Egypt lost Sinai. He was not compensated for his shattered army, his impoverished country or the influx of population caused by mass displacement of people from West Bank.

He again relied on them in the late 1980's after they promised to better the situation for refugees and went on to borrow billions of dollars, but he had to take it out of Jordan's pocket and devalue the Jordanian dinar. A third time happened just after the 1991 gulf war, with resentment for gulf countries for causing a situation in his country. He did not rely on them and did not support the allied mission led by the US, they decided that they will no longer keep the Jordanian laborers, a very valuable source of currency to Jordan. They also kicked them out of their homes, to Jordan and its already troubled social resources, and to our day some people still are waiting for their compensation in Jordan.

Hussein never admitted that he was a pragmatic ruler, looking for the interest of Jordan first, before any morals or ethics; it just happened that, more often than not, Jordan's benefit was in the moral way.

Whether you see more positive than me, or just don't agree that he was that righteous, no two people can argue that he was a true leader and a very good survivor. This Kid-made-King, Soldier, Peacemaker, Aviator, Educator and above all a true humanity-lover is one of the most remarkable leaders of the second half of the twentieth century.

On the weightloss, another 2 pounds lost this past week

30.4.07

Jordan of Hussein Part 1

This was something I wrote a few years back, I will shamelessly plug it in here:

As a young Jordanian living in Toronto, Canada, the most multicultural city in the world, the question of background was comfortably dropped. My response was almost always: "Jordan, you know, the country of King Hussein". That second part always seemed necessary for identifying the country, it also provoked –more often than I anticipated- a knowing smile. As if trying to convey the message that the late king was more popular in, and respected by, more people in the world than any other character of this era.

Before you think this writing is written to the glorification of Hussein of Jordan, well, just wait till I get to his downs, but first, think about the attendees of his funeral, an event that went down in the history books next to the funerals of Charles de Gaulle and Tito. That was owed to not only the number of delegations present, but also to the fact of their political diversity.

Only Hussein's funeral could have managed to bring the US President Bill Clinton and Colonel Qadaffi's son together, President Hafez Al Asad of Syria and Hamas militant group representatives were set side by side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with three Israeli delegations, Jordan was a recent peace ally and a very welcoming ground to Israeli business and politics.

To situate dignitaries from the US Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush with Tony Blair of the UK and other symbols of western democracy together with leaders of radical Arab and Muslim states was unheard of. That was just what he was famous for, even after he lost his battle with cancer.

That was one of the few battle he lost in his lifetime, always able to get the best out of every situation. He was always labeled as a pragmatic leader and yet still had the respect of being able to do so very prudently. He did create a state out of barren Jordan and did put it on the map.

While in 1950, water, sanitation, and electricity were available to only 10% of Jordanians, today these reach 99% of the population. In 1960 only 33% of Jordanians were literate, in 2003, this number climbed to 91.3%. In 1961, the average Jordanian received a daily intake of 2198 calories, and by 1992, this figure had increased by 37.5% to reach 3022 calories. UNICEF statistics show that between 1981 and 1991, Jordan achieved the world's fastest annual rate of decline in infant mortality—from 70 deaths per 1000 births in 1981 to 37 per 1000 in 1991, a fall of over 47%. King Hussein always believed that Jordan's people are its biggest asset, and he continued to encourage all—including the less fortunate, the disabled and the orphaned—to achieve more for themselves and their country.

That still doesn't get me to the point of interest; I wanted to show that a man like that was nothing but raw leader. He knew the right step to take every time and so caused Jordan to be the model state in the region. With the highest civil liberties "ceiling" amongst its neighbors, the highest literacy rate in the Arab world and the longest standing form of government in the region. He was responsible for 47 years of that.

28.4.07

The hottest chick


Have you watched Honey and felt like you love Hip-Hop, or related for the first time with spoiled and annoying popular crowd in Never Been Kissed, maybe you even went to watch Sin City in the cinema knowing full well that you hat Frank Miller or maybe even all Comics.

I know I was turned into a geek, when I watching a little show called Dark Angel, it is all because of this young woman who turns 26 today. Happy Birthday. She has us all burning because she won't do a nude scene in any movie, still she is AskMen.com’s Most Desirable Woman of 2006, just to show that men appreciate hot modest chicks, who occasionally kick ass, and are not afraid to show their scantly-clad figures.

26.4.07

Terrorism

One good definition of Terrorism is the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to achieve political ends, whether it is conducted by states, individuals or groups, it is still terrorism. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami agreed with it, I agree with it and I believe it is clear enough.

No state or group should be allowed to use terrorism in any other sense, if it is targeting men (or women) in uniform, then it is not terrorism, if it targeting militias or fighting factions then it is not terrorism.

From Wikipedia:
Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania:

In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us — this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group — they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities. […] After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says — one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” […] Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

The British Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism so as to include not only violent offences against persons and physical damage to property, but also acts "designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system".This latter consideration would include shutting down a website whose views one dislikes. However this, and any of the other acts covered by the definition would also need to be (a) designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND (b)be done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.[the latter three terms are not defined in the Act]

So basically under the British definition some psycho can blow up a bus full of children, just for the fun of it and he wouldn't be a terrorist, but if someone hacks into a site that has a bad word about his religion (which I agree is wrong but come on) he would be terrorist.

Short legal definition proposed by A. P. Schmid to United Nations Crime Branch (1992):

Act of Terrorism = Peacetime Equivalent of War Crime

This last definition seems to me to be the best I could find, and therefore should be satisfactory until my brain finds something wrong with it.

24.4.07

Terrorism or Lawful Warfare

I have been contemplating a thought about "terrorists" and "freedom fighters", I read slightly up on the topic and still could not get to a definition that satisfied me and the accurately categorises what is present in our region.

I might go on a limb here but I will be working towards a personal definition using what data I can collect and to have the definitions legal under the Geneva conventions and the many international accords I saw about this, I will also look at the modern US definitions of "unlawful combatants" and try to point out where they are flawed in my opinion.

My every-8-day update, I lost two pounds this week, but it was because of certain unhealthy foods and because I didn't keep a close eye, yet, I still lost what is thought by many dietitians to be the safe amount for continued weight loss.

22.4.07

Andy Rooney

A man of 88 years, he is hilarious, he makes me watch 60 minutes till the very end to see what he is going to be talking about next, he started with 60 minutes when he was 60 and he makes me laugh almost every week.

I don't think he should retire because of his old age, I am a pilot and I understand that 60 is almost a magical number, but in journalism and commentary, it is common sense to keep the people with
the most experience, even if they do sound like you grandfather.

20.4.07

Jordan goes nuclear

Just search Google for "water impoverished" and the first entry will be about Jordan, we are one of the ten most water impoverished countries in the world. It seems about right, at least to me. When I searched for cancer rates in Jordan, I found out that our rates are lower than the west, and are comparable to non-Jewish populations of Israel, with the Jewish population being slightly higher.

Many people claim that Jordan has one of the highest cancer rates in the world, it is simply not true, although lung cancer is higher because of higher smoking rates and less emission standards. Still we have the highest Life expectancy at birth in the Arab world. I am, however, not excited. Jordan plans on acquiring nuclear power for peaceful uses.

The most important uses will be, water and electric power generation. We need it for both, since 95% of our power needs are imported. The Uranium reserves in Jordan are high and the expertise in the field locally are acceptable.

I however can't seem to understand why I am troubled by this Idea, although I have spoken for it in the past and all the way until last year. It is definitely going to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and our Carbon emissions.

Jordan will not be told to open up like Iran, we started with the blessings of the US and the IAEA, we will never face any threats because of it, and we can probably sell electricity to Iraq and continue on our age old tradition of exporting expertise.

The money spent isn't what bothers me either, our budget is sucked up by demand on foreign oil and the ever increasing prices, while our we could potentially export Uranium in the future. Still I can't seem to put my finger on it, I am bugged by the idea.

I was probably hoping for windmill farms and solar fields for generation of electricity, yet still I am contended that we can't afford such a costly venture. My major source of concern is the following:

1-Chernobyl-like accidents: we all know that Jordan has impeccable adherence to standards in it's big ventures. Royal Jordanian boasts a 28 year fatality-injury free record. Still one mistake in our nuclear power plant will cause consequences we can't afford.

2-Testing and control: Since this seems to be a government-run project, I don't see it being as controlled and inspected as the private-run ones we are comparing to abroad when we discuss this. This can obviously lead us to no.1 above

3-Decommissioning a nuclear power station at the end of its useful life is very difficult and expensive.

4-Most importantly, in the Middle East, any war time attack of a facility like this will would produce a huge amount of radioactive contamination. It will be tempting to the terrorists who already roam aimlessly in our region.

18.4.07

A world without America

I googled "A world without America" and I might say it is not what I expected, I thought the leftists, the libertarians, and the political minds of the world would probably get the first hit. I mean, it did seem that way to me.

I found this video which seemed to imply that the Russians would win WWII and therefore "liberate Paris", that polio would not have a cure or a vaccine by 1969 and that Israel would not find support in staying in the Middle East and that by 1979 it would be wiped out and refugees will be sent to the seas. Saddam would be a tyrant, still holding Kuwait and holding nuclear weapons. It also claimed that the world would be poorer, less advanced and less educated.

It seems that their claims are irrefutable at first-site. Russia did win World War II and their Armies where about to catch Nazi Hitler. But the UK would have intervened and with their and the French's Empire, (remmember De Gaulle was based in Algiers from 1942) would have not sit idly.

Polio like any illness is bound to have found vaccine, just like Insulin was discovered in Canada, and just like the first organ transplant was done in South Africa. Israel was almost founded by the Balfour declaration which was drafted by Arthur Balfour, who was the Foreign Minister at the time and his Grandchildren still are Earls of Balfour. The Soviet Union recognized Israel just as soon as it was Declared a state, and would probably have rather have it as a satellite or ally because it was very skillfully managed. It's all political. I support your friends' enemies and you support my friends' enemies.

Saddam was a military man who rose in the ranks of the Baath again supported by Britian, where it not for the French fear of King Faisal and the British support of Baath, Saddam would not have been able to continue, also, the US supported Saddam in his war against Iran and therefore if the US was not there the world might have to deal with an Islamic empire, or wait, maybe the Shahanshah wouldn't have been ousted by Khomeini. It is too hard to tell because the CIA was involved in many programs.

Money is produced as a direct result of human effort, which would still be here without the US, and since a big chunk is concentrated in the US, the world would probably be richer since the money would be spread over many people.

16.4.07

Conscription in Jordan

I know that the government sent up legislation to the parliament and rumour has it that it will be passed unamended allowing the military to set their own terms.

I am ticked off at the government's decision of reinstating the subscription in the military and for more than personal reasons:

1- They intend to allow the military to conscript young men with no age limit and no TIME limit (back to the 2 year limit, which is just awful)
2- People will be paid little or close-to-no money to serve, which can put a huge strain on the struggling middle class of Jordan who expect their children to help with the income.
3-The allocation of resources for such a program will put another burden on the shoulder of tax-payers, while it is hardly needed.
4- There is no provision in the law that allows conscientious objectors to have an exception. I refuse to be forced to learn how to handle weaponry and to be forced to fire them.
5- This is almost like using slave labouring, I am a pilot and unless they can offer me a job in my field of choice, I will not succumb.

I do understand that the government plans to train them in vocational courses, but that hardly has to be mandatory, many will tell you that government supplied education in the schools is far below acceptable standards and I do not think they will be providing me the top training available which I have sacrified a whole lot to earn.

I think every Jordanian in a time of peace has the choice to not learn weaponry, to work for minimum at least wage and especially in government establishments, and to choose a work field. Basic human freedoms are being breached here.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, ...

I would love to see the military officials in Jordan explain this, since they seem to be focusing on projecting it as no longer conscription but as "work training and assistance", albeit forced training and assistance.

On a different note, I am very happy to announce that I lost 14 pounds in the last eight days, which is some sort of record, at least for me, with this current rate, I will loose my target of 64 pounds in no time (which I highly doubt).

14.4.07

Lunar phases and eclipses


For some unclear reason I felt that I knew what I was talking about when it came to the galaxy, but that day I was shocked to realise that not only I knew absolutely nothing when it came to the moon, I realised that I had got it all wrong back in school where I was a model student.

Allow me here to blame the teacher who made me think that the moon looks different depending where you look at it from, I know it doesn't make sense, but in the back of my mind I always thought it true.

The image above is for a moon in "middle totality", which happened on a total eclipse of the moon, which happened on the evening of 2004 October 27-28. This is probably what I was thinking about, Lunar eclipses which can be seen only on specific areas of the earth.

However, I thought it also meant that moon was lit differently according to where you are, it turns out I was wrong. Ah, well, at least now, I know better.

12.4.07

Weight Loss and me

I read something wrote in 1999 at salon, it is the most hilarious, satirical -I hope- piece of writing I read in a while, and its has some -although twisted- truth to it, it also made me think of why exactly am I trying to lose weight.

I am trying to lose the weight because I have a pair of jeans that won't fit me, I am trying to lose weight because I want to be able to walk without my right knee bugging me, and I trying to lose weight because I want to able to play sports against my kids and beat them. All the reasons most people have but one more. I am trying to lose the weight because I want to beat the odds, this is one thing from my father that I don't want to copy. He died at 49 of a brain stroke, he had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Everyone who tells me I remind them of my father or that I look like him makes me so happy. I also fear of leading an unhealthy life. 49 is just too young, I plan to retire at 50 and then do all the things I love.

I am very good at motivating myself and I hope that I will be able to keep going at my plans and maybe one day I will be able to quit smoking, but for now, I quit quitting. One task at a time.

10.4.07

Free Medical Care for all

I believe at one point here in Jordan the government started an initiative to give free health care to all children under the age of 5, and that every year the age will be increased, resulting in a generation growing up with free health-care. That was a very commendable initiative and idea, but obviously as with many of the social programs, it went down the drain.

Currently, around 25 per cent of Jordan's 5 million population are insured with the Health Ministry, another 5 per cent are considered impoverished and are treated free of charge, 32 per cent are covered by the Royal Medical Services of the Jordan Armed Forces, and another 12 per cent are covered by private sector insurance plans, leaving around 25 per cent of the population without medical insurance coverage.

Now for Jordan the transition is easy to free health care for all. My suggestion is, collective collaboration, the 62% who are insured by the government either as civil servants or as military personnel are obviously a burden to the system, not to mention the impoverished. Therefore it would seem prudent that the government would try to cut down the cost. Obviously the government agrees that privatization is a good step, but it can't sell the idea of privatizing public hospitals to the public. The solution seems to be this:

Create a governing board for for each of the hospitals with the intention and will of making it a government owned company in the process of financial and managerial independence from the ministry of health. Basically, let the hospital compete with each other, in the process, the quality of health care shall improve dramatically.

Thereafter, we should calculate the average cost of insuring the 62% of the people and allow the private insurance companies to bid at insuring those citizens with equal or better health care. This way, the bureaucracy of the government is avoided and the lean capitalistic machine is set in motion.

In a country like Jordan this is easily applicable, the hospitals will provide better care to reel in the patients and the insurance companies will try to outbid each other therefore lowering the cost to the government. Both sectors in Jordan are developed enough to take such as drastic step, but it will provide us with much required benefits.

The reduced cost will gradually allow the government to increase coverage to all the children in the country and the insurance companies will obviously turn to the private medical establishments to provide better coverage for their clients.

A rough estimate of comparable examples in other parts of the world shows that coverage will increase to almost 75% which all that is needed in the first step. The next step will happen gradually as the medical industry will flourish under such steps therefore allowing them to give to lower rates rates as their entries will increase with their current overhead staying within current limits. The increased business will drive the employment wheel and will provide countless jobs.

This is my example of socialism integration with capitalism, social benefits provided by the people's taxes and the ever fierce competition of insurance companies. Naturally, this will require fiercer anti-trust laws in Jordan.

P.S. This writer is currently covered under insurance managed by a private establishment, he is not satisfied with the service.

8.4.07

Weight Loss

I reached an all-time high on the scale the other day, now I won't tell you what I saw on it, but I want to follow a new approach to this whole thing, and I will add a note about its effectiveness every 8 days, I will be following the advices of Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, I will read their book and follow it through as much as I can, given the limitations of Jordan.

I also have a target goal to reach, lets just say it's 64 pounds away, which takes alot of determination.

The motivation came quite unexpectedly, an acquaintance of mine overheard me saying I was (my all-time low), he said "Yeah, I think I saw you then, didn't you go to that Palestinian Bar-Mitzvah."
I laughed so hard because I can take a joke, but I realized, I needed to control myself sooner rather than later.

Wish me luck

6.4.07

A380 is ugly

I am sorry, but as a pilot, nothing impresses me about the A380, its only asset is the double-decker cabin and its only improvement is the curved dihedral, but other than that it does nothing for me. All the other touted improvements are

I care about how an airplane looks, I care about aesthetics, and many pilots -not just Boeing fans- will agree that the A380 is lacking in that. The aircraft doesn't have a graceful face, yes, I meant that. Look at a 747 classic or the beautiful stretches, or even the uglier variant the 747SP looks cool combined to this fat mammoth. Let everyone know that from this moment, I declare the A380 ugly, and not the adorable ugly like ugly Betty, but the horrendous ugly.

I am a fan of Boeing and therefore I am biased but an A319 in easyJet livery is just as much eye candy to me as the Air Asia 737 seen here. (shameless plug-in of a Malaysia trip photo). Although I like the engine look better.

But the A380 is annoyingly an eyesore, the cockpit, is placed in a cumbersome manner, it looks like its not on either story which gave the aircraft a forehead. The aircraft looks short in length, compare it to the 340-600 in the background. I absolutely hate it, it is the first wide-bodied aircraft that fails to have elegance, yet I would love to fly it.

When the B747 was introduced it cut the costs of travel by about 50% or at least cut the cost on the carriers, which was the hay-days of airlines, it introduced a new class of travelers and has outsold every comparative model and still does, there are 120 orders on it and will add to the 1380 already built to reach 1500. It held the record for the largest aircraft for 35 years, let's see if A380 can actually sell enough to break-even, not to mention outsell Boeing again.

In 2006, Boeing was the world’s largest civil aircraft company in terms of orders, overtaking Airbus for the first time since 2000. Last year, 398 aircrafts were delivered by Boeing. Good luck, Airbus, you will need it with the introduction of the 787 and the new 747-800.